Hummingbird Facts for Birding Enthusiasts

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Who doesn’t love hummingbirds?!

Hummingbirds are some of the most fascinating little creatures on the planet, and they have won the affection of fans all over the world. Interestingly, hummingbirds only live in North and South America–and nowhere else on the planet!

Do you have a fascination with hummingbird information and want to learn about hummingbird habitats and food? Do you love the idea of planting flowers that will attract them to your yard?

Maybe you just find hummingbird behavior intriguing or wonder why “hummers” fly so differently from all other birds.

These are great questions, and as hummingbird aficionados, we are here to give you the answers! Let’s start with that last question about how hummingbirds fly.

How Do Hummingbirds Fly?

Most birds fly forward by making downward strokes with their wings. This gives them the lift they need to take flight and propel themselves forward.

However, hummingbirds do something very different from other birds: they hover!

According to Science World, “A hummingbird sweeps its wings mostly horizontally to hover. It rotates its wings in a figure-eight pattern which pushes air forward, backward, and downward, generating lift force on both forward and back strokes of the wing.

“By adjusting the angle of its wings and tail, it can hover on the spot, move forward or backward, or pivot to either side.”

(This video from the Spruce shows just how this process works! Check it out to learn more.)

Where Is the Best Hummingbird Habitat Found?

Hummingbird habitats are diverse and cover a huge range. Hummers themselves do not give us any indication that they can only survive in a particular type of habitat. They live just about anywhere that they can find an abundance of nectar-producing flowers.

They live in wooded areas and in rainforests, deserts, and mountains. You’ll also find them in backyard gardens and yards.

Their range is significant, covering the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to the Andes Mountains in South America. That said, there are no hummingbirds outside of North and South America, which means that birders in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia (and of course Antarctica!) are out of luck.

Hummingbirds love to inhabit forest edges, parks, gardens, and thickets. For some, like the Rufous Hummingbird, mountain meadows are a favored habitat.

In addition to needing nectar-producing flowers, they also need a healthy diet of small insects. They are content to spend time in extremely cold weather, as long as there is food nearby. If the temperatures are too extreme for flowers and insects to thrive, the hummingbirds won’t stick around, either.

What Is Torpor?

Speaking of cold-weather hummingbirds, several species live in incredibly cold winter climates. This includes high-altitude mountains and deserts where the temperature drops incredibly low at night.

This causes the hummingbirds to enter a hibernation-like state called torpor.

In torpor, the hummingbird’s heartbeat slows to about 50 beats per minute. This is a considerable drop since their daytime rate is 1260 beats per minute!

During the day, they take 250 breaths per minute while resting. In a torpor state, their breathing slows down and becomes irregular.

This “state” conserves much-needed energy to get through the long cold night and can last for 8 to 14 hours.

Arousing from torpor can take up to an hour for larger hummingbirds.

It can take this long for their body temperature to slowly rise to 86 degrees Fahrenheit to enable them to fly again.

Torpor isn’t unique to hummingbirds. Other birds that have been observed in torpor states include Common Poorwills, doves, and the Whip-poor-will.

Hummingbirds Are Small, But Fierce When Protecting Their Territory!

hummingbirds facts

Hummingbirds are very territorial. If you enjoy putting hummingbird feeders in your yard or garden, you may need to develop a strategy to avoid “warring” visitors.

Think of it this way: when a hummingbird visits a feeding station, he thinks of it as his own. He owns that feeder. If he sees another hummingbird trying to eat his food, he may attack the other bird, divebombing and striking him.

Even though pictures of hummingbird feeders often show multiple male hummingbirds visiting one feeder, this is actually quite rare!

A while back, we wrote about how to minimize feeder wars.

Some of the strategies that work best include:

  • Planting flowers and shrubs give hummingbirds more sources of food. Instead of depending on your feeder, they can find plenty of colorful, nectar-rich blooms and sources of insects.
  • Don’t hang multiple feeders that are visible to one another. You could hang them on different sides of your house, or with trees and other natural or human-made elements to block their view.
  • if you put feeders out year after year, your hummingbird visitors will return year after year. Be sure to place feeders in the same spot so that the returning birds will look for them in the exact location as last year.

Waiting, not so patiently!

Hummingbird fans don’t need to hang tons of feeders to attract them to the yard. In fact, just one feeder at a kitchen window can usually attract hummingbirds all season.

When to put out your feeders is dependent upon where you live. In some areas, hummingbirds arrive as early as February! Other states won’t see them arrive until late Spring.

Because of this, a good general rule is to hang your feeders about a month before the birds are expected to arrive. If you wait too long, you’ll likely miss the chance to attract new hummingbirds–and last year’s hummers might get impatient while they are waiting!

It’s not uncommon for people who are late in hanging up their feeders to find impatient, grumpy hummingbirds in their backyards, waiting for their familiar sugar water!

Best Nectar Feeders & Accessories

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Earlier this year, I reviewed 13 of my favorite hummingbird feeders that are available on Amazon. You can check out the full list on the Wild Bird Scoop blog, but here are a few of the best!

Muse Garden Hummingbird Feeder

Sale
Muse Garden Hummingbird Feeder for Outdoors, Hand Blown Glass, 34 Ounces, Containing Ant Moat, Comet
  • WONDERFUL COLORS TO ATTRACT HUMMINGBIRDS: Best hummingbird gifts for any occasion. Perfect gift ideas for hummingbird lovers....
  • HANDMADE MEANS UNIQUE: Each product is handmade and unique, which can be proved by the small bubbles on its surface.
  • ALL-ROUND CARE FOR HUMMINGBIRDS: The base is equipped with perch for hummingbirds to rest, and ant moats, all are lead-free and...

Last update on 2023-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I love this beautiful feeder! Features include an ant moat, leak-proof gasket, pretty design, glass material, and large size.

Keep in mind that because the feeder is so large (34 ounces), you may end up wasting homemade or store-bought nectar if you don’t have enough hummingbirds to drink it all within a few days.

Nature’s Way Bird Products GHFZ Handblown Illuminated Top Fill Feeder

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Nature's Way Bird Products GHF7 Hand Blown Illuminated Top Fill Hummingbird Feeder
  • Beautiful, thick, hand blown glass in vibrant colors
  • Extra wide opening enables easier filling and cleaning; all parts easily remove and are dishwasher safe (*LED is not dishwasher...
  • Silicone gasket on lid and flowers for tight leak-free fit

Last update on 2023-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a smaller feeder at only 16 ounces. It’s a top-filled feeder, which means it’s particularly easy to refill. It’s a lovely, handblown design that looks pretty in the daytime and illuminates solar power at night. The leak-free gaskets help you avoid wasting any nectar.

Even though it’s easier to fill than other feeders, it’s a bit harder to clean. As well, it’s very delicate and requires careful handling. Don’t let it get blown down in the wind, or it will certainly break!

RAYHOME Hummingbird Feeder for Outdoors

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Wosnows Hummingbird Feeder for Outdoors, 26 Ounces Colorful Polymer Plastic Leakproof Hummingbird Feeders for Outside Garden Patio Hanging
  • 🐦【BRILLIANT COLOR COMBINATION】Sweet honey is often in bright flowers, so hummingbirds look for natural hues of red, pink,...
  • 🐦【UPGRADED LEAK PROOF DESIGN】The plastic base of the upgraded hummingbird feeder can be better combined with the silicone...
  • 🐦【ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PLASTIC MATERIAL】This hummingbird feeder is made of environmentally friendly polymer materials....

Last update on 2023-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want to avoid hanging a glass feeder, your other option is a plastic feeder like the Rayhome feeder. At 26 ounces, it’s a medium-sized feeder with four feeding ports.

This is a durable, attractive feeder. Unfortunately, because it’s opaque, it’s not incredibly easy to determine if you’re low on nectar.

Important Hummingbird Feeder Accessories

Hummingbird feeders must be kept clean. A dirty, moldy hummingbird feeder can cause a number of problems.

Hummingbirds will stop visiting it, but before they do, they could become sick from consuming spoiled nectar.

Here are some of the best hummingbird feeder accessories available to keep your feeders clean and safe for your hummers.

Droll Yankees Perfect Little Brush

Droll Yankees DROPLB 077349196398 PLB Perfect Little Brush, 3.5" L Each, Multicolored
  • VERSATILE: Perfect for cleaning hummingbird feeders as well as jewelry, keyboards, watches, and anything else that requires...
  • VALUE: Comes with three separate 3-1/2 inch long brushes for one low price
  • FLEXIBLE: Brush tip can twist and bend to thoroughly clean hummingbird feeder ports

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This set of three little brushes can be used for a number of household chores, including cleaning jewelry, detailing a car, or cleaning a hummingbird feeder. They are small enough to fit into the tiny spaces of feeding ports.

DiCUNO 2 Sets of Cleaning Brushes 8 Inch Brushes Set

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DiCUNO 2 Sets of Cleaning Brushes 8 Inch Nylon Tube Brushes Set with Protective Design [Updated Edition, 1 Set of Super Hard & 1 Set of Medium Hard]
  • 2 Set of 10 Nylon Brushes with varying diameters on detachable key rings. Packed in a gift box.
  • Made of stainless steel and nylon bristles.1 Black Set of Super Hard bristles for cleaning tough items(coffee machine etc) , and 1...
  • DiCUNO promises that each end of the brush has protective design. Not only prevent scratching the items, but also protect you from...

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want to avoid needing to frequently replace brushes, you can buy a set like this, which includes 8 brushes in a variety of sizes.

No two hummingbird feeder designs are exactly the same, and you may need more than just one tiny brush style.

This new feeder comes in two different levels of firmness: one set of medium brushes and one set of hard brushes.

Perky-Pet 23T Bird Feeder Foam Cleaning Mop

When you’re cleaning a larger feeder, you need a larger tool, and the Perky Pet foam cleaning mop is here to help!

The soft head of the mop is at the end of a handy (but somewhat flimsy) handle. When you’re done, just rinse it, wring it, and hang it up to dry.

Do Hummingbirds Bathe?

Hummingbird habits are particularly interesting during bathing. They will brush up against wet leaves, ruffling their feathers to dampen them. Then, they sit to clean and preen their feathers.

There are specific bird baths available for hummingbirds. They will use any bath that is small and very shallow. Some feeders are even two-in-one, like this ACNOKKI Bird Bath and Bird Feeder

ACNOKKI Bird Bath and Bird Feeder 2 in 1 Hanging Hummingbird Feeder,Easy to Fill and Clean, Hummingbird Feeders for Outdoors Hanging with 6 Pcs Handheld Hummingbird Feeders
  • 💎High Quality Materials:Our 2 in 1 hanging hummingbird feeder is made of high quality plastic and metal.They are extremely...
  • ⭐ Product Specifications: Our package contains a bird bath, 6 handheld hummingbird feeders, three brushes, chains and ant moat....
  • ✨Easy to install and use: Our hummingbird feeder is complete with accessories, you can easily hang the bird feeder on a tree...

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other than wet leaves, hummingbirds also enjoy a dripper or mister placed over a birdbath. A dripper or mister can be purchased or rigged up with a garden hose.

They love to swoop back and forth under the dripping water or through the mist. After several passes, they will sit on a branch and preen their feathers, and then start all over for another pass…or five!

Have you ever watched a Hummingbird take a bath?

Look at this stunning video of 30 hummingbirds bathing together in Beverly Hills! What a fascinating sight! It’s especially interesting because hummingbirds usually aren’t very social creatures.

This second video shows another group of hummingbirds bathing together, though not in such impressive numbers.

One final video! In this cool capture, we see a hummingbird bathing by rubbing against the leaves of an iris. This shows that hummingbirds don’t need anything fancy for a bath; they just need some fresh water to splash in or brush against.

5 Fascinating Hummingbird Facts

Let’s wrap up with a few more fascinating facts about everyone’s favorite tiny backyard bird:

  • A favorite pastime for Hummers is perching for several minutes watching the area and sometimes sitting motionless. Of course, they’re harder for humans to notice when they’re perfectly still among the leaves and flowers.
  • Hummers actually spend up to 80% of their time perching. This includes the time when they are sleeping. They will use TV antennas, satellite dishes, clotheslines, dead branches, and bushes–anything that gives them a good view of the surrounding area!
  • Hummingbirds feed often, about every ten minutes, for 30 to 60 seconds at one sitting. They have split tongues that open on both sides to hold the nectar. When a hummingbird pulls its tongue back into its mouth, it’s almost like it “zips” up. Basically, the split tongue goes back together.
  • A hummingbird will eat almost half of its body weight in sugar each day. If a man had the same metabolic rate, he would have to eat 285 pounds of hamburger a day to match the food intake of a hummingbird! Their diet also includes small insects and bugs.
  • Hummingbirds that live in the same areas as Sapsuckers enjoy the banquet that these larger wild birds make available. The holes that the Sapsucker excavates offer running sap to drink and insects to eat. It’s a great relationship that benefits hummingbirds immensely!
  • Hummingbirds are very particular about their feeders and will leave a feeder that is too often dirty or empty. Leaving a dirty hummingbird feeder in your yard is a guaranteed way to send the hummingbirds you want to see to find somewhere else to eat. If you can’t commit to regularly filling and washing your hummingbird feeders, it’s best to plant lots of nectar-producing flowers and let those do the work of attracting hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds Are Friends!

Hummingbirds have become very trusting and friendly towards humans over time. It’s not unusual for one of these little birds to sit on a finger for a sip of nectar from a feeder that is being held.

They will also hover very close, curiously looking at something brightly colored on your clothing.

Many hummingbird fans set up their syrup feeders to hang over parts of the back deck or patio. That way, they can sit outside and watch the hummingbirds gather just a few feet away.

They will often sail by within inches of where people sit, including at restaurants and in public parks. Sometimes one will stop and hover right in front of a person’s face, giving them an up-close view!

I hope you enjoyed this page on Hummingbird information.

Additional Reading on Hummingbirds from Wild Bird Scoop

We’ve published lots of information about hummingbirds and how to enjoy them in your yard.

Check out some of our recent posts!

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Liz Ranfeld

Liz Boltz Ranfeld is an independent educator and writer from Indiana. She lives on the edge of the woods with her husband, 2 kids, dogs, chickens, and hedgehog. One of the best things of living in rural Indiana is spotting hawks, pileated woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and other wild creatures. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, and gardening, and one of her personal heroes is the conservationist and birdwatcher Rosalie Barrow Edge, who paved the way for the protection of birds around the globe.